ERIC Number: EJ776000
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Reference Count: N/A
The IRS and Your Politically Controversial Speakers
Heen, Mary L.
Academe, v93 n5 p30-36 Sep-Oct 2007
In the past, administrators have sometimes cited the lack of balance represented by the invitation of a college or university group or the danger that a group's invitation might violate section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code as reasons for canceling or modifying otherwise legitimate invitations. In "Academic Freedom and Outside Speakers," Committee A expresses a concern that overly restrictive interpretations of section 501(c)(3) have become an excuse for preventing campus groups from inviting controversial speakers. Developments during the past two years reinforce that concern for the upcoming election season. Increased enforcement efforts initiated by the federal government combined with the lack of clear rules in this area may lead college and university administrators to apply overly restrictive interpretations of the tax rules. Special danger is posed when administrators face strong objections by powerful constituencies offended by the views of an outside speaker. However, a firm commitment to academic freedom principles at stake provides university and college communities with a principled framework for complying with tax-exemption requirements without undermining the educational value of an open campus. Faced with pressures from constituencies offended by invited speakers' views and heightened government scrutiny of political activities of tax-exempt organizations, administrators may otherwise unduly restrict the right of campus groups to hear outside speakers.
Descriptors: Federal Government, Academic Freedom, Taxes, Institutional Mission, Freedom of Speech, Political Campaigns, Educational Objectives
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Internal Revenue Code